tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC December 14, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm EST
will be my exclusive guest here on "the ed show." we're thrilled to get her on the program to talk about republican obstruction and plan for the democrats in 2012. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. good evening, rachel. good evening, ed. thanks a lot. thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. some presidents are better at giving speeches than others have. the bad at speeches presidents have professional speech writers who can make anybody sound good. all presidents i think in part because of the professionalization of the whole speech writing thing, all presidents now use some of the same tricks. they follow some of the same patterns. even some of the same cadences in giving their good presidential speeches. so, for example, every year at the state of the union, or any speech where there's an invited formal audience with dignitaries, like maybe including the first lady, pretty much all of these in modern times now, from any president, you can expect a little anecdote
about one of the invited guests at that event. it will be an applause line. so like wesley autry, the new york city subway hero, or daniel hernandez, congressional intern who helped save the live of congresswoman gabby giffords. the speech writers come up with a way to fit the personal story of the hero into the speech. the person gets recognition at the big speech event. it's a way we model he e rroism the whole country. i do not resent this at all. i think it's cool. when presidents speak to military audiences, there's a variation on this, where they highlight the story of a service member who has a connection to that specific military audience. president obama speaking today at ft. bragg on the occasion of the ending of the iraq war. president obama did one of those tried and trued include a personal story thing. in the middle of his speech today about the war ending. the president told a service member's individual story. but this time there was a
surprise. it had a very unexpected ending, this story. i did not see this coming. i don't think the audience saw this coming. not from the way they reacted. this is not how i thought this story would end. >> as americans, we have a responsibility to learn from your service. i'm thinking of an example, lieutenant alvin shell who was based here at ft. bragg. a few years ago on a supply route outside baghdad, he and his team were engulfed by flames from an rpg attack. covered with gasoline, he ran into the fire to help his fellow soldiers and then led them two miles back to camp victory where he finally collapsed, covered
with burns. when they told him he was a hero, alvin disagreed. i'm not a hero, he said. a hero is a sandwich. i'm a paratrooper. >> i'm not a hero, a hero is a sandwich. says the actual flesh in blood hero in the middle of doing his incredibly heroic thing in wartime. i did not see that line coming in the president's speech today. the president's remarks today at ft. bragg are sort of the closest thing we are going to get as far as i know to any sort of victory day parade after iraq. it's the closest we're going to get to a ticker tape ceremony to mark the end of the iraq war and all the veterans of that war coming home at last. more than 1 million americans have served there. the president saying at ft. bragg today the colors of the united states armed forces, the flags of the united states and the u.s. military, which american troops have been fighting under for nearly a decade, those flags will formally be taken down and cased
at a ceremony tomorrow in baghdad. those colors will begin their journey home. there are a few ways in which to me this is sort of surreal. on one level it is just flatly rema remarkel the consuming, moral and political crisis of the iraq war, the huge, long catastrophic war. the national convulsion we had over why we were fighting it and when we could come home. after all that, it is a little surreal that it is ending so quietly. at another level, i think it is upsetting to see the persistence of the divide that grew between the military and the rest of the country during these post-9/11 wars. less than 1% of the population has been fighting two of the longest wars in american history simultaneously. two deployments, three deployments, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine deployments. families including the families of guardsmen and reservists, not just all active duty troops, even the reserve forces. their families absolutely
u-turned to be a 100% on a war footing experience for a decade. there's been a great split in the experience of our country. a great split in experience between the military bearing this huge burden for a solid decade and civilians at home, you know, getting tax cuts. but the whole war on the deficit. put both wars on the deficit. we are seeing that divide perpetuated even at the end of the iraq war now. as the military marks this occasion with ceremonies and with big home comings across the country. and with solemn carefully choreographed hand-over events in iraq where this fighting has been taking place. in civilian life, the end of the iraq war so far, at least, sort of goes down as just one world news story among many. at the end of other long wars in american history, the country threw ticker tape parades to welcome home soldiers rejoining civilian life. the military has had such a different experience for the past ten years than the rest of
america that if at this point if there are going to be parades, we have to expect the military to hold them themselves for themselves. it has not, in an important sense, been the country's war in iraq. it has been the military's war. and that is dangerous for any country. it is a dangerous disconnect for any country to find itself experiencing. the final and frankly much more pedestrian level in which the ending of the war is playing out in a strange way right now is in the politics of how the iraq war is ending. george w. bush hasn't been seen or heard from, safe from a book tour and recent charity trip to africa for the past three years. the george w. bush era in the republican party everybody agrees is over at least for now. that's why republicans are having a hard time picking a presidential nominee. there are no inheritors of the george w. bush era in republican politics. at least they don't want to be seen that way. they're all saying they're reagan republicans or teddy roosevelt republicans. they may now want to be seen as
calvin coolidge republicans or herbert hoover republicans? they'll be anything but none of these guys call themselves george w. bush republicans. and that's why it is so remarkable that the republican politics of the ending of the iraq war now are that the iraq war ought not end. that the real problem is that the troops are coming home in time for christmas. republicans, people running for president, elected officials, all of the conservative leading voices on issues like this, they are all against the war ending. >> unfortunately, unfortunately, it is clear that this decision of a complete pullout of the united states troops from iraq was dictated by politics and not our national security interests. i believe that history will judge this president's leadership with a scorn and disdain that it deserves. >> this was a failure by the
obama administration to close the deal. at a time when we need troops in iraq to secure the place against intervention by iran and the bad actors in the region, we're going to go into 2012 with none. >> the administration was not interested in having 10,000, 20,000 troops there. that's a decision they made. i think others, including i, myself, would have made a different decision. >> we're now in a situation where we're pulling all of our troops out of iraq, period, no stay-behind force. think that's a mistake. >> if you look at every time we have deposed a dictator, the united states has always left troops behind to be able to enforce the fragile peace. in this case, once we're finished in iraq, we'll have more troops in honduras than we'll be leaving behind in iraq. that's why i called on president obama to return to the negotiating table. >> leon panetta, the secretary of defense, commuted we were going to have a presence in iraq going forward.
they were unable to negotiate a status agreement to allow the troops to remain. >> a caveat here, the last one was mitt romney speaking with "the des moines register" editorial board last week and right after what you heard he just said there, right after he said not leaving up to 30,000 troops in iraq is a failure of the obama administration. this is what he said immediately thereafter. >> but is the wind-down in iraq appropriate? yes. >> to be fair, like on everything, you can put mitt romney down as being both for bringing the troops home and leaving them there. whatever you need to hear. mark him down as for and against. most of the other republican candidates, at least the ones not named ron paul, think ending the war in iraq is a bad idea. they think that the problem with the iraq war is that it's not going to be any longer. rick perry says that getting out of iraq is, "putting political expediency ahead of sound
military judgment." michele bachmann as you heard there wants president obama back at the negotiating table getting american troops back to iraq. newt gingrich has given romney-esque mixed signals on this, but he, too, slams what he calls an accelerated withdrawal from iraq as "promoting dangerous regional dynamics." even jon huntsman says bringing the troops home from iraq is, quo quote, a mistake. ron paul is the only republican presidential candidate in fave of the iraq war ending as it is now. all the other republicans want the iraq war to go on for longer. they all expressed their unease with the iraq war ending right now. it seems remarkable to me. this seems like kind of a big deal given how much distance today's republican wants to put between themselves and george w. bush. between themselves and specifically the most salient think about the george w. bush presidency. the most controversial thing about the george w. bush presidency. the thing that will be in the top line of his obituary at the
end of his long, healthy and happy life. aside from ron paul, they are all saying after 8 1/2 years that the war ought to keep on going, do not end the war. keep the troops there. do not bring them home. for context, in terms of a snapshot of american public opinion right now, the last cbs poll that asked americans if they agree with president obama's decision to bring u.s. troops home from iraq by the end of 2011, that poll found the number of americans who agree with that decision is 77%. ending the iraq war polls higher than the smell of bacon at this point. even among republicans, there is 63% approval for the decision to end the war in iraq right now and bring all the troops home. but republican elected officials and their supposed national security experts who get booked on tv to talk about all this and essentially all of their candidates running for president who aren't named ron paul, they are all taking the other side of 77% of the american public on this. i know that nothing about the end of the iraq war is getting
an exclamation point in civilian life right now for some reason, and that bewilders me. republican politicians uniformly saying we ought not end the iraq war, it seems to me like if anything deserves an exclamation point about this, probably that does. >> over the last three years, nearly 150,000 u.s. troops have left iraq. and over the next few days, the small group of american soldiers will begin the final march out of that country. those last american troops will move south on desert sands. and then they will cross the border out of iraq with their heads held high. one of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of the american military will come to an end. iraq's future will be in the hands of its people. america's war in iraq will be
over. >> the president went on to say, we knew this day would come. we've known it for some time, but still there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long. i think there is also something profound about this being the ending to this war that has lasted so long. it is politically astonishing to me the lesson learned about the iraq war for the republican party of 2011 is that the iraq war hasn't gone on long enough. and the troops shouldn't come home. more important question, though, i think for the whole country, regardless of politics, is whether there's still a way these last ten years of war could be something that we see ourselves having done as a country, not just that we see our military as having done essentially without us and on their own. joining us now is retired army colonel lawrence wilkerson, former chaform er chief of staff for colin powell and served during the
first term of the administration. thanks for being here. >> thank you, rachel. >> looking back on the start of the war and looking back on the past 8 1/2 years, how it feels for you to have the iraq war ending now and having all the american troops coming home. >> let me say first that i want to thank you for your very eloquent and accurate commentary with regard to the state of condition of the u.s. armed forces. it's unconscionable in some respects that we have let these people sacrifice for as long as they have in afghanistan and iraq and literally gone on with our lives. reduced taxes, as you pointed out, and shopping as president bush said, and so forth. these men and women not only deserve to come home, they deserve to come home a long time ago. the preposterous protests being made by members of my political party, like john mccain and lindsey graham and others, just
boggle my mind. we need to move in a military sense back to a position of strategic agility. that is to say, we need to be in offshore confirmation. we need to be in battle groups and marine amphibious groups and air force in saudi arabia. we need to have the agility to be able to move as we need do to influence actions if we need to with hard power in eastern asia. it's absurd we were mired in iraq so long. secondarily, we need the iraqis to do their own thing. the iraqi nationalism. when my son served in karkuk with the third iraqi air force, he said the only thing that unified those members of the air force, sunni, shia, whatever they were, was their hatred for persons. this kind of nationalism in iraq is the best defense against iran. not u.s. forces on the ground. unless, of course, your plan is to go on to syria or go on to iran from afghanistan and from iraq. a and, of course, that was the
plan of george bush and dick cheney, a plan that was put asunder that iraq turned badly in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. >> i think there are a lot of hard questions to ask about what we learned from the iraq war experience as a nation. the kind of things you were just mentioning there about the split between siecivilian experience the last ten years and what our military's experienced in the foremost, especially for those of us who are civilians, we have to think hard about that. one of the things i really don't understand, it's a wide open question to me, is how the experience of the iraq war changed republican politics. i feel like it's surprising to hear republican politicians all talking now as if it is 2005. as if nothing has happened that's any different than when the first few years of when the war started. do you understand how republicans may feel differently about war and peace and foreign policy than they did before the iraq war experience? >> the only way i can explain it, rachel, is their hatred of president obama. i say that with some
circumspection. they want to defeat this man, bring this man out of the white house, embarrass this man, put this man through every kind of turmoil they can possibly put him through politically. they'll take almost any stand even -- and this is what really grates on me as a republican. even if it's not in the interest of this country, they will take a stand and have repeatedly taken stands that oppose the president simply because they oppose the president. it's not america. it's not the united states. it's not our best interests. it's certainly not our national security interests. it's getting rid of this president. that is political opportunism and political blindness of the first order. and it may cause me to leave this party eventually, i must say that. >> do you see any hope within the republican party for a new vision, a conservative realistic not reactionary foreign policy emerging? is anybody leading on that? >> i see ron paul, i see walt
jones from north carolina. i see a few others who speak sanely and soberly. but as far as the leadership goes, whether it's domestic policy, tax reform, taxing the wealthiest in this country, which incidentally dwight eisenhower did for eight years at the rate of 90%. an archrepublican, if you will. any issue you want to pick, my republicans seem to be intent on suicide. >> retired army colonel lawrence wilkerson, chief of staff for secretary of state colin powell in the first term of the bush administration. sir, i always enjoy talking to you and in particular on this subject and tonight. thank you. really appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. >> all right. speaking of ron paul, how's this for a headline? ron paul could very well win the iowa caucuses. the 76-year-old libertarian your nephew in college loves could very well be the republican front-runner after the critical first presidential caucus. wrapping our minds around what that means and what that doesn't mean, coming up next. my name ist and i'm a yoga instructor. if i have any soreness, i'm not going to be able too my job.
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the beltway media capital "q" question of the day about 2012 politics is whether iowa might be won not by newt gingrich, not by mitt romney or sleepy or dopey or any of the seven dwarves but ron paul. it's not just the new iowa poll out yesterday from public policy polling showing ron paul only one point behind newt gingrich, statistically tied for the lead in iowa. it's not just that ron paul does great in that one poll. it's that ron paul has done
great in basically every poll in iowa since thanksgiving. ron paul is not leading, but he is in second place in every iowa poll except one that has been taken this month. so, yeah, newt gingrich is ahead there. but if for some reason, pick one, i got a million, if for some reason newt gingrich is not going to win iowa, right now the polls say the guy who's going to win instead is not mitt romney, it's old dr. paul. which is amazing, right? that would change everything in republican politics. that would change everything in the 2012 race this year. if ron paul won iowa, right, that would change everything, wouldn't it? no, no, it wouldn't. remember which republican won iowa in 2008? that was this guy, self-help weight loss guru fox news personality and guy hosting the latest antiabortion jubilee for the republican candidates in iowa tonight, mike huckabee. in 2008 mike huckabee had the best chance of winning the
nomination as i did. he won iowa and got to stay in the national race longer and keep losing the national race for the nomination for longer than he otherwise might. that pretty much all it meant. this year the beltway thrill of the moment might come true. ron paul might conceivably win iowa. michele bachmann could conceivably surge to victory there, too. the rick perry people are trying desperately to start rumors they could win in iowa. anything's possible. no, not you, rick sanatorium, you're still not possible. everybody else possible. even though the ron paul candidacy is always interesting and unique, for some of the reasons lawrence wilkerson just talked about, but for all of the reasons ron paul is interesting. ron paul's success raises questions about libertarianism and isolationism in republican politics right now. the hard truth is ron paul winning iowa, itself, would not matter very much. no matter how excited the beltway media is about that prospect today. it would not matter very much.
not unless you believe that we really were going to get a president huckabee in 2008. not unless you think that in the year 2000, steve forbes and alan keyes and gary bower were the real competition for george w. bush and not john mccain. not unless in 1996 you think pat buchanan was a real threat to go all the way. sorry, pat. not unless in 1988 you thought televangelist pat robertson had a better shot at the presidential nomination than george h.w. bush. iowa republican's parochial picayune conservatism. while the iowa caucuses on the republican side are fun to cover and they are of interest in their own right, iowa republicans do not pick presidents. they pick huckabees. and who doesn't heart huckabees? there he is tonight in des moines. weight loss self-help guru, fox news, activist, supporting the
personhood thing that could have banned birth control pills in mississippi. all the republican candidates are kissing his ring because he's the last republican to have won iowa. if you want to know what a lot of good winning iowa does for him in the long run, you're looking at it tonight. i'm not going to lie to you, it would be fun to watch ron paul win it in iowa this year. it would make pundits' heads explode everywhere, right? because what he would be winning is the republican caucuses in iowa, that result would also mean roughly nothing. to the rest of the presidential race. have asked yours truly to teach you about treating frequent heartburn. 'cause i know a thing or two about eatin'. if you're one of those folks who gets heartburn and then treats day after day... well that's like checking on your burgers after they're burnt! [ male announcer ] treat your frequent heartburn by blocking the acid with prilosec otc. and don't get heartburn in the first place! [ male announcer ] one pill a day. 24 hours. zero heartburn. block the acid with prilosec otc, and don't get heartburn in the first place.
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now, that's progressive. call or click today. today in congress, nothing happened to make it less likely that your taxes are going to go up at the end of the year. right now, you are benefiting from a temporary cut in the payroll taxes that get taken out of each one of your paychecks. president obama and the democrats say they want to extend that cut when it expires at the end of the year, maybe even make it bigger. republicans have been, meh, about that idea. republicans have now passed something out of the republican controlled house that would extend the payroll tax cut, but they made sure to combine it with a whole bunch of other poison pills president obama said explicitly he would veto. the house republican poison pill thing has zero chance of passing the senate. senate republicans moved today to block taking a vote on it. in short, politics had a huge day today. house republicans voted on a bunch of stuff that has no chance of becoming law but might
be useful for trying to make democrats look bad, useful for blaming democrats if your taxes go up at the end of the year even though democrats are trying to make sure that tax rise doesn't happen. it's republicans who are blocking the schism extension t would prevent that. politics had a big day today. substanti substantively, the issue of whether or not you're getting a tax cut, that got nowhere today. they're saying it could lead to the threat of yet another government shutdown before the end of the year. fourth try of that this year. and that's why nobody sighs contentedly anymore when their child tells them what they want to be when they grow up is a member of congress. ♪ it's nice to be here ♪ it's nice to see you
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going after mr. gingrich today, too. also george will from the right right. met taphorically claiming i gue he wants to kill newt gingrich today, headlining his piece, newt gingrich commits a capital crime. the "washington post" editorial page, right, center, back to the right a sect time, all of them unanimously dismantling newt gingrich. the whole page. all year long there's been a vague sense of republican dissatisfaction with mitt romney, with mr. 22%. as republicans have hopscotched from one non-mitt romney candidate to another. mitt romney is still polling around, you know, 22%, 23%, can't seem to get any higher. but the vague sense of republican dissatisfaction with front-runner mitt romney is now being supplanted by a not at all vague blistering, black, white and red all over clear statement of worry and dislike from the conservative establishment. that's turning into a sense of near panic that newt gingrich's lead in the polls might hold. check this out.
behold. talking points memo posting this chart today. it's the answer you get when you ask voters about a race between barack obama and newt gingrich. the numbers go back to march 2010. this is a head to head obama versus gingrich. newt gingrich never gets closer to barack obama than four or five points. on average he loses by more than ten. hone in on the last few weeks, see barack obama is going in a completely different direction from newt gingrich, the direction commonly known as up. this graph shows basically this conversation between pollster and voter. hey, voter, gingrich or obama? then the voter responds by going, let me think, okay, obama. if you ask voters about a race between barack obama and mitt romney, you get this. this other graph here on the bottom. that conversation goes something like this. pollster says, hey, voter, mitt romney or barack obama? the voter says, hmm, romney or obama, romney or obama? let me think about that. i think probably obama, but let me think about that. in the end, mitt romney trailing the president by just over two
points which in this scale is a statistical tie. with the economy this much in the doldrums, president obama is not a lock for re-election. he knows it. the door is wide open for a likable, reasonable, adult republican to at least run a credible campaign. instead, national republicans have fought their way from having a front-runner the party really doesn't like to having another front-runner who is this guy. who's newt. newt gingrich. center of attention on the "washington post" editorial page today and the same way the guy in handcuffs is the center of attention at a perp walk. today we got a glimpse of the great newt gingrich panic. not just at the national media level but also in the states, particularly in the northeast where republicans say they're worried newt gingrich at the top of the ticket in november could hurt candidates in lower tier races. they say specifically they're worried about candidates like senator scott brown in massachusetts and chris shays running for senate in connecticut. republican strategist brad todd telling "roll call" mr.
gingrich, "may have a hard time in competing with obama in the parts of the campaign that talk about the future." which i think is republican for newt gingrich is going to sink this ship. talking points memo also reporting on a new anti-scott brown fund-raising letter from the massachusetts democratic party. their killer pitch against scott brown, "newt and scott brown are birds of a feather." which is also sort of a comment on evolution if you think about it. joining us now to help us wiplu the depths of the republican political mind, steve schmidt, with the mccain campaign in '08, now an msnbc political analyst. am i wrong that there's panic in the establishment over newt gingrich's prospects? >> there's a lot of panic in the establishment over his prospects. there are 31 house freshmen in districts that president obama won in 2008. and the notion that newt gingrich could be at the top of the ticket, i think, is is
petrifying to them. i think also you're seeing a lot of people who worked in close proximity to newt gingrich and people who covered that era very closely, who have very serious questions about his capacity to lead, about his volatility, about his lack of discipline. and when you look at the election today, you look at the dissatisfaction over the economy, over the president's handling of the economy, this is an election that republicans should be able to win. but people are deeply worried that we may be about to put someone into the nominating convention who is, you know, deeply, deeply flawed. >> to you think that that sentiment, articulated in an even keel way from you, articulated with exclamation points from other republicans, is that going to change his poll numbers and have an effect? >> when you look at the nbc poll yesterday, what you see is all of the conservative intensity in the race is behind newt gingrich.
and that mitt romney is really lagging in terms of conservative support. and of course, conservative support is determinative of the outcome of an election. thi i think mitt romney's path is clearly one of character and leadership. whether you agree with mitt romney's policies or not, he's led an exemplary life and gotten things done from a leadership per spectspective in the days t. you'll see a focus he has the capacity to lead and you saw him pointing out newt gingrich has zany ideas. let me give you one example. the economy is clearly the issue republicans are going to have to run on to win the election. newt gingrich the other day says the biggest threat facing the country is the electromagnetic pulse. it's the lack of discipline that will be absolutely lethal in the context of the general election against president obama. >> again, that very even keel case for what mitt romney's sell for himself is, that's been the same sell all along. he's mr. 22%.
he doesn't seem to be getting conservative enthusiasenthusias. if there's a split in the republican party, not in terms of who people like or don't like, who they root for, but whether there's a split in the republican party between sort of elite establishment opinion and voters. or whether voters are going to follow the order. >> i think at this stage in the race, you look at the numbers and look at a lot of the inconsistencies between things newt gingrich has done, things that newt gingrich says. there's a case of collective amnesia. newt gingrich is really being evaluated by republican primary voters, one dimensionally, through the prism of his debate performances. republican voters are looking, saying, that's the guy we want in the ring to fight against president obama. he has the capacity, in the minds of a lot of republican primary voters, who have fantasies of him intellectually demolishing the president on the debate stage. i think the reality is is when you look at gingrich's record, you look at that history of
discipline, you look at the propensity to reach for the self-destruct button at any given moment, on any given day. there's just deep worry by people who know him best. and so i think someone had written this last week and it said, all the people that basically know mitt romney, who have been around mitt romney, support mitt romney. you know, all the people who have been around newt gingrich know newt gingrich really well are in a state of panic about the prospect of a gingrich candidacy. i think that says something about newt gingrich. something he's going it have to deal with in the weeks ahead. >> sounds to me you're not saying it directly, but sounds to me like you're expecting the poll numbers to -- >> i think as he becomes the focus of the race, i think those poll numbers are going to drop. i think that ron paul's in a strong position in iowa to challenge newt gingrich. and i think there's going to be a lot of focus on the gingrich record and i think there's going to be an intense voter education effort that takes place that will actually reach the republic
an vo can voters and give him pause to think about it. >> their amnesia will be cured. steve schmidt. i'll say "the national review" editorialized tonight, the white house seems winnable next year. we fear to nominate former speaker newt gingrich, the front-runners in the polls, would be to blow this opportunity. so there's that. we'll be right back. that's why we created the share the love event. get a great deal on a new subaru and $250 goes to your choice of 5 charities. with your help, we can reach $20 million dollars by the end of this, our fourth year.
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every year for almost 50 years now congress has gotten together to pass a bill to fund the department of defense. it always passes and the president always signs it. the pentagon gets a whole bunch of money. that's the way it generally works. this year the bill to fund the defense department also became the bill to require that people suspected of terrorism potentially including american citizens captured on american soil, people suspected of terrorism be put into military custody, where they could be held indefinitely without trial. so here's your pentagon budget, but we're going to go ahead and take the sixth amendment off your hands. why should the bill defund the defense department also have to be the bill that cotfies and expands and cements indefinite imprisonment without trial? the obama administration responded by saying, well, it shouldn't. they said essentially, no way, that's not going to be in the bill. the white house threatening last month to veto the entire defense
authorization bill over this new lock them up and throw away the key set of rules that were included in the bill. tons of administration officials have spoken out publicly against this thing at various times over the last couple months. defense secretary leon panetta, jay johnson, the top lawyer. the defense department. they've all said that this detention provision would hurt counterterrorism efforts. the director of national intelligence, james clapper saying these limitations could deny our nation. they got together and tweaked that part of the bill in hopes of vetoing. the house and senate did make a bunch of changes to the legislation. there's been a lot of confusion and some disagreement as to whether the changes they made actually fixed the problem. actually dealed with the concerns voiced not just by law
enforcement and the intelligence community and the white house, but also by civil liberties and human rights groups. all the way through yesterday, the white house wasn't weighing in. there was no word on whether their threat to veto this big bill still held. meanwhile, two retired four star marine generals wrote an op-ped in yesterday's "new york times" when they called this, quote, misguided and unnecessary. saying members were, quote, all too willing to undermine our ideals in fighting terrorism. they should remember american ideals are assets, not liabilities. just this morning, the fbi director told a senate committee he still has concerns about the current language, about the uncertainty the detainee language could create from this bill. there's going to be a veto, right? actually, no. this afternoon the obama administration said that they wouldn't veto. press secretary jay carney saying the white house is still concerned this is going to create uncertainty for counterterrorism efforts but enough changes for made to
satisfy the demands the administration had made that caused them to threaten to veto it in the first place. so the house passed the defense bill this afternoon, the senate is expected to vote on it this week and the president is no longer threatening to veto it. big open question here is did those changes resolve the big constitutional concerns the white house and others had? is that why the veto threat was rescinded or is the white house signaling they'll be okay with letting these concerns slide. how problematic is the bill the president is going to sign? joining us, the director of the aclu. nice to see you. >> thank you. >> did the changes to the bill substantively effect your concerns about effect on civil liberties? >> no, i think it was an awful bill before and it is an awful bill now. it is a bill that would make permanent as -- make permanent
in american law a fixture of worldwide detention without trial. it is a bill that further militarized counter terrorism policy, makes it harder to close guantanamo. and it is astonishing and disappointing the president is withdrawing the veto threat. >> what's the difference from somebody picked up on suspicion of terrorism? what would be the difference in being treated as somebody who's in military custody versus somebody being treated in the normal court system? >> well, there are all sorts of human rights ramifications of military custody, but i think it is worthwhile to focus on the national security ramifications. as you mention, many of the people that objected to this language are people who have national security credentials, the president's most senior national security advisers who spoke out against the bill, and they spoke out against the bill in a form that is substantially
similar to the bill we've got now and they weren't objecting on human rights grounds. they were objecting because the programs, mill tarization of counter terrorism was a national security problem and it is a national security problem. if you look at the effectiveness of, for example, military commissions at guantanamo and compare them to article 3 courts, ordinary courts in the united states, it is quite obvious the ordinary federal courts are much more capable of adjudicating prosecutions, presiding over terrorism prosecutions. and you see it across the board. what you see if you look at the statements from people like petraeus and panetta, what you see is a lot of the power invested in the military is power the military doesn't even want. so there are all sorts of human rights reasons to oppose this legislation, but there are national security reasons to oppose it as well. >> are there stated policy aims of the obama administration that would be blocked if the president signs this?
closing guantanamo you mention? >> yeah. i think it will make it harder to close guantanamo. it is also going to create all sorts of problems for the united states abroad because the powers we claim are not powers other countries are happy with, and ultimately in order to have effective counter terrorism policy, you need other countries willing to cooperate. and this theory that we have indefinite detention authority, power to detain people picked up anywhere in the world without charge or trial until the end of hostilities, whatever that means, that's a power many other countries are uncomfortable with and many people in the united states are uncomfortable with. and even the obama administration we thought was uncomfortable with it until today. but apparently president obama was willing to go to bat for presidential power. he objected to the original he objected to the first bill
because it was too constraining. the human rights concerns remain. the only thing that has been resolved is this problem, if you think of it as a problem, of constraints on executive power. >> you direct the national effort at the aclu. thanks for helping us understand it. i have a feeling this isn't over. >> this debate will move to the courts. >> thanks for being here. best thing in the world coming up next with a twist. laces? really? slip-on's the way to go. more people do that, security would be like -- there's no charge for the bag. thanks. i know a quiet little place where we can get some work done. there's a three-prong plug. i have club passes. [ male announcer ] now there's a mileage card that offers special perks on united, like a free checked bag, united club passes, and priority boarding. thanks. ♪ okay. what's your secret?
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